It’s not often that a supermarket features as a store of the week, principally because it is in the nature of the sector to attempt to standardise everything from product to store design. This tends to mean that if you’ve seen one, it’s likely that you’ve seen an awful lot.
The same could be said of supermarkets that purport to be green. All too frequently, those lumped under this label consist of little more than a bit of pine cladding applied to what is essentially a standard unit. It is refreshing, therefore, to see this offering from the Co-operative Group that opened in the well-to-do Midlands town of Oakham last week.
In development for just over a year, at 20,000 sq ft, this is a supermarket rather than a superstore and is built around a steel frame with composite clad walls, which have enabled build time to be reduced and to enhance the structure’s thermal properties.
There are also the now familiar natural ventilation, green refrigeration and high levels of natural daylight features that have become de rigueur in this form of eco-retailing.
And yes, walk on the roof and there’s a bit of a garden up there, reducing heat capture. There is also “rainwater harvesting” - hi-tech buckets that collect water for the loos.
But what really marks this building out is that it’s a piece of good architecture in a well-preserved market town - proof, if it were needed, that being better to the planet does not carry the inevitable corollary of creating a shop that is distinctly unappealing in terms of its overall appearance.